Yogurt Cake

French Yogurt Cake

Photography by Céline de Cérou.

Gâteau au yaourt

Maxence is a big advocate of the adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. In other words, when a classic recipe is fabulous, don’t meddle with it, and just do what you’re told. Obviously I have trouble following that piece of advice, and more often than not I’ll surrender to the urge and tweak a little something here and a little something there — substitution is my middle name.

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Instant Pot Ramen-Style Pork Belly

Instant Pot Ramen-Style Pork Belly

Photography by Céline de Cérou.

I have been wanting to share this recipe for ramen-style pork belly with you for, oh, two years and a half, ever since I made it for the first time, using Camille Oger’s excellent directions in her post Easy braised pork and quick rāmen.

Camille Oger is a French food writer and journalist who travels extensively to visit growers and producers and chefs. She has spent a lot of time in Asia, and in Japan in particular. Her blog posts are extraordinarily well researched* and her photos are an armchair traveler’s dream come true.

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Chouquette Waffles (Choux Pastry Waffles)

Chouquette Waffles

Picture in your mind a love story between a Belgian waffle, square and sturdy with deep grooves, and a chouquette, puffy and dainty with a soft heart.

Immediately they would see that they have pearl sugar in common. The waffle would make the chouquette feel safe, and cared for; the chouquette would give the waffle a sense that life is full of whimsy.

Now, what would happen if they had a child together?

This is what would happen: a chouquette waffle, crisp around the edges, tender inside, easy to love, with sugar crystals.

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Lentil Kohlrabi Salad

This is the salad I made for lunch the day I moved out of my apartment and into my next-door neighbor’s.

It’s not what you think. Maxence and I have decided that our kitchen and living room — which are, in fact, in the same room — needed a facelift, and after months of imagining, planning, and gathering our strength, it looks like it is finally happening.

It’s anybody’s guess how long it’s all going to take — you know how it is — but at this point we have just come out of the phase that consisted in us boxing up our stuff and cramming it in our bedroom, so the workers could come in on Monday and start ripping things out.

If you don’t know about kohlrabi, you’re in for a crunchy treat.

Fortunately, for the past few years, Maxence and I have been on a steady pruning streak, donating, selling, or recycling those things we didn’t need or love to make more room for those we do, and to enjoy the blissful feeling you get when you look at your living space and there is, indeed, space. (Still, for all that pruning, the number of boxes I ended up needing to pack up my kitchen is classified information.)

Just as fortunately, for the past few weeks, I’d been cooking my way through my food supplies in order to minimize the number of jars and half-eaten packages to be put into boxes, and to avoid having to toss anything from the fridge or freezer. This is something I should really try to do every spring, renovation or no: we had ourselves a few really nice hodgepodge meals during the last few days, involving chicken stock, the last porcini from our foraging expedition last fall, and some potato gnocchi as well.

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Chocolate Buckwheat Pound Cake

Chocolate Buckwheat Pound Cake

I love pound cakes, or quatre-quarts* in French. As a child, I went through a phase of eating Breton pound cake for breakfast day in, day out. I’m talking about supermarket pound cake, baked in long yellow logs and wrapped in soft paper. I liked it on the stale side, so I sliced it in advance, and let it age three to four days. I was an affineur of pound cake if you will.

I only recently discovered the beauty of homemade pound cake, and it has become one of my could-make-it-blindfolded cakes, in rotation with my French yogurt cake.

You know how pound cakes work, right ? You weigh the eggs, and add the same weight in sugar, melted butter, and flour. This means these ingredients each form a quarter of the batter, hence the French name, four-quarters. The English name comes from originally using a pound each of the ingredients, but that yields a pretty big cake. The French ratio allows for more flexibility.

Of course, it doesn’t tell you if you’re supposed to weigh the eggs with or without the shell, and how much baking powder to add. In truth, you can just relax about both. We’re not building a rocket ship; we’re baking a cake. Weigh the eggs with or without, add one or two teaspoons of baking powder, it will be fine. Channel your inner French grandma and do what feels right.

And it is a recipe that lends itself to variations with remarkable grace; my favorite kind of recipe for sure. Today I will share one of my favorite riffs: the buckwheat and chocolat pound cake.

Chocolate Buckwheat Pound Cake

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